Whatever I want to do, I have that degree. Nobody can take that away from me.
Hiking is so popular during the COVID-19 pandemic that many parks are inundated with visitors. A Bridgewater State alumna has a timely strategy for slipping on those walking shoes, exercising and discovering something new, all the while practicing physical distancing.
Marjorie Turner Hollman’s new book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are, is a guide for exploring hidden gems in one’s own town or neighborhood. The class of 1977 graduate began writing it before the pandemic, but it is more important now.
“Suddenly, all these couch potatoes I’ve been trying to urge to get more active have turned into Olympic athletes,” she said of the interest in walking and hiking. “They all flocked to the greatest hits and these trails were dangerously overcrowded.”
Hollman came to Bridgewater as a transfer student and found her home in the Department of History, where professors offered new perspectives on the past. In Dr. Philip Silvia’s class, she studied Ireland’s food exports during the potato famine.
“The injustice of this struck to my core. You mean the world isn’t fair?” she said. “It shaped some of my life views. I refer to that to this day.”
Her outdoor writing began with a series in her local paper, the Bellingham Bulletin. Then she started a website, which became so popular that she decided to create trail guidebooks for easy walks in south-central Massachusetts.
Hollman writes for people looking for relatively flat walks on fairly smooth surfaces. Her suggestions are perfect for young families, older residents and people with disabilities.
Connecting with nature through easy walks is especially important for Hollman, who became partially paralyzed after brain surgery and is unable to complete strenuous outings.
“The outdoors makes me really happy,” she said. “It is a healing place for me, and I continue to heal and continue to seek the outdoors because it brings me deep joy.”
Hollman’s Bridgewater education helps as she covers historical programs for the Bulletin. She also writes people’s personal histories, using historiography skills taught Professor Benjamin Spence to make treasured family mementos.
Some of those personal tales supplied fodder for a book on Bellingham’s history that she co-authored.
“It’s the power of a story to engage the reader,” she said of the publication. “If everyone learned history that way, they would love history because it’s a story.”
Ultimately, Hollman knows the lessons learned at Bridgewater will be there no matter where life’s trail leads.
“Whatever I want to do, I have that degree,” she said. “Nobody can take that away from me.”
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